Dolly Gallagher Levi

Dolly Gallagher Levi is a fictional character and the protagonist of the 1938 play The Merchant of Yonkers and its multiple adaptations, the most notable being the 1964 musical Hello Dolly! Levi's main profession is matchmaking in Yonkers, New York. She also begins a romantic involvement with businessman, Horace Vandergelder, when she sends his niece on a date with a local town boy.

Dolly Gallagher Levi
The Merchant of Yonkers character
Streisand - Dolly signed.jpg
Barbra Streisand as Dolly Levi in the 1969 musical film Hello Dolly!
First appearanceThe Merchant of Yonkers
Created byThornton Wilder
Portrayed bySee below
In-universe information
  • Matchmaker
  • Businesswoman
  • Dance instructor
  • Wedding planner
  • Mandolin teacher
  • French teacher
  • Cheese importer
  • Roof inspector
  • Bills collector
  • Beautician
  • Chef
  • Upholsterer
  • Social listener
  • Lobbyist
  • Investor
SpouseEphram Levi (dec.)
Horace Vandergelder
HomeYonkers, New York

Character DescriptionEdit


Dolly Levi is a "widow in her middle years who has decided to begin her life again. She is a matchmaker, meddler, opportunist, and a life-loving woman." She is from Yonkers, New York and was married to Ephram Levi, who dies before the events of the story. She is loud, brassy, and constantly meddling in others' lives. These qualities make her beloved by her hometown. During one of her matchmaking jobs, she meets half-a-millionaire, Horrace Vandergelder, who owns a store in downtown Yonkers. During the story, she attempts to make him fall in love with her, though her attempts are mostly unsuccessful. She also constantly quotes her late husband's favorite saying:

"Money is like manure. It's no good unless you spread it around."

Stage MusicalEdit

Percy Waram and Jane Cowl as Horrace and Dolly, respectively, in the Broadway production of The Merchant of Yonkers (1938)

During the first act of the musical, Dolly is still quite attached to her late husband, Ephram. However, during the act finale, "Before the Parade Passes By," she decides to move on with her life and chase after Horrace's affections. In the titular song, Dolly claims to the waiters of the Harmonia Gardens restaurant that she will never leave New York again.

Musical Film AdaptationEdit

While many portrayals of Levi in the musical are comedic and loving, Barbra Streisand's concept of the character is more harsh to those around her, especially Horace (who is played by Walter Matthau). This feeling can be seen especially in the penultimate song, "So Long Dearie."

Notable PortrayalsEdit

David Burns and Carol Channing as Horrace and Dolly, respectively, in the original Broadway cast of Hello Dolly!, 1964

Hello Dolly!Edit

  • Carol Channing in the original, third, and fourth broadway casts, first West End revival, and second national touring cast


  1. ^ Bailey was the first African-American actress to play the role
  2. ^ La Rue was the first male actor to play the character in drag
  3. ^ Murphy only played Dolly at certain performances


Clips from the 1969 musical film were featured in the 2008 computer-animated film WALL-E.


  1. ^ "The Queen Delays HELLO DOLLY!". 16 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
Pearl Bailey as Dolly in the first Broadway revival, 1968.